Number Path Games

Lily padsOur Jumping on the Lily Pads number path game helps children develop a mental number line. In this game, children take turns rolling a dot cube and moving their frog (or any token or game piece) along a lily pad game board. The goal of the game is to have your frog reach the pond first! There is advanced mathematics hiding within this game, making it a great way for children to stretch their math muscles. Parents and teachers also play an important role in this game by asking math questions, such as: Who rolled more? How many more did you roll? Whose frog is closer to the pond? How many more lily pads does your frog have to jump on to get to the pond?

Playing Jumping on the Lily Pads helps children understand that whole numbers are spaced equally along the number line. You can learn more about number path games and download your own Jumping on the Lily Pads game boards using the links below!


More information about the math skills that number path games target


Click on the links below to view, download, and print the directions for number path games!

Directions for number path games (all game directions in one file)

Directions for Jumping on the Lily Pads (English and Spanish)






Lily Pad game board (numbers 1-5)
Lily Pad game board (numbers 1-10)
Lily Pad game board (numbers 11-20)
Lily Pad game board (numbers 21-30)
Lily Pad game board (numbers 31-40)
Lily Pad game board (numbers 41-50)


Play Games, Learn Math: Number Path Games by Kristen E. Reed and Jessica Mercer Young in Teaching Young Children (April/May 2019, Vol. 12, No. 4)


How does children’s knowledge of number concepts progress?


Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno
This beautifully illustrated book invites children to look closely to find all of the ways that number is integrated into its illustrations. The first page is zero — an empty winter landscape with nothing to count. The next page is 1 — one tree, one bird, one house. The next page is 2 — two buildings, two trucks, two children, two men, two trees, and two o’clock. As you turn each page, notice the clock tower marking the hours, the number of blocks on the side of the page, and how the seasons change. Each page also corresponds to the months, from 1 (January) to 12 (December). Children will find both simple and complex mathematical ideas in this book and can look at the pictures over and over again. For an additional activity, create your own bulletin board just like in Anno’s Counting Book, collecting five of a variety of favorite items (e.g., five crayons, five cozy socks). The last page of this book also offers great suggestions for more mathematical activities!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This popular book is great for comparing numbers and talking about “how many in all” (cardinality). After you read the book, ask children questions such as “How many apples did the caterpillar eat? How many Pears? Plums? Strawberries?” See if children can name the total number eaten without having to recount. Also, notice whether children are subitizing (seeing how many immediately) or counting one-by-one. You can also help children practice comparing numbers by holding the book open to the pages that are cut out for each fruit. Ask, “How many more pears did he eat than apples? How many more oranges than strawberries? How many more oranges than apples?”

Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
This is a classic counting picture book: one black dot makes a sun, 2 black dots make up the eyes of a fox, and three black dots make a snowman. As you read this book with children, count the dots on the page together. This book pairs great with the dot cards games because both help children practice their one-to-one counting and subitizing. You can also use this book to help children see that bigger numbers are composed of smaller numbers. For example, on the book page that shows 6 dots, one hand holds 3 new marbles while the other hand holds 3 old marbles — 3 and 3 make 6!

Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Elhert
This counting book is a pleasure to read aloud with beautiful, vivid illustrations. The narrator imagines that she has turned into a fish and will “flip down rivers and splash in the sea.” On each page, children can count the fish from 1 to 10. The narrator also includes simple addition problems on each page such as, “4 striped fish, plus me, makes 5.” Children will enjoy counting the fish and the fish eyes as you read. For an added challenge, try the “plus one” problem on each page. For an additional activity, children can enjoy making their own illustrations of fish to count. To make fish, children can glue together colored bits of paper or use crayons, markers, or paint. Have children narrate their illustration and write down what they say to create your own story!

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
This fun book and song can be used to teach patterns, counting backwards, knowing what number is “one less,” and cardinality. For patterns, point out the words of the song that repeat and see if children know what is changing — there is one less monkey jumping on the bed each time (this is called a shrinking pattern). You can also have children act out the book by having five children pretend to be the monkeys and one person pretend to be the mama. By acting it out, children will see how the number of monkeys (children) decreases by one each time the pattern (verse of the song) repeats.

How Many Snails?: A counting book by Paul Giganti, Jr., illustrated by Donald Crews
Walking to the meadow, lake, library, park, bakery, toy store, and other stops, the author wonders, “how many?” about a variety of objects organized in different ways. “How many snails were there? How many snails had striped shells? How many snails had striped shells and stuck their heads out?” This is a fun counting book to use as a read aloud and for children to browse on their own.

Quack and Count by Keith Baker
The seven ducklings in this books split into whole number combinations that make seven. First, children count all seven ducks. Then, the ducks slide, hide, chase, splash, and quack in the combinations of 6 + 1; 5 + 2; 4 + 3; 3 + 4; 2 + 5; and 1 + 6. Finally, all seven ducks fly! This book helps children understand that bigger numbers are composed of smaller numbers. This is the same mathematical idea that is practiced in the How Many Are Hiding dot cards game — numbers are composed of parts that together make up a whole.

Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes
In this book, children walk along the beach gathering seashells and adding them to a collection that gathers on the side of the page. After reading, have book discussions in small groups. Turn to a page and ask children how many shells were collected on that page. Hold the sidebars of two pages next to each other and ask children which page has more seashells, and how many more.

The Baseball Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath
Similar to an alphabet book, this book has one page for each number 0-20. When the story starts, the baseball score is zero to zero. Then, one ball, one bat, and one call. Then, two teams. At the end, nineteen ice-cream cones to celebrate and twenty baseball cards! Children can practice counting the objects on each page as well as notice that some numbers are bigger than others (e.g., 20 is much bigger than 2).